“No Loophole”

Pastor Don Mossman / Text: Mark 7:1-13   Theme: No Loopholes


Have you ever been in a circumstance where you were confronted by a rule you disagreed with and you tried to find a loophole?  There are books published and on-line classes on how to find loopholes, primarily on taxes and real estate.  EG: Instructor on 1st day at law school.  “This is a class on loopholes.”  Then there are the politicians who amaze me finding loopholes each day, like Rudy Giuliano has said, “Well, it depends on how you look upon “truth.  It may mean one thing to one person, and another to a different person.”  Loopholes

1. Our text reveals clash of law and gospel

2. An intense happening between the Pharisees and scribes and Jesus.

  1. They are looking for evidence to finally arrest Jesus. So they challenge Jesus regarding his disciples and ritual washing before eating.  This wasn’t a  hygienic thing, but a ritual washing according to the centuries old traditions established by Jewish scholars over the centuries.  The reason for these traditions were to build fences around God’s law, thus protecting it from abuse.
  2. The Pharisees asked why the disciples did not was their hands according to the ritualistic tradition of the elders. In answer to the Pharisees’ question, Jesus says, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandments of God in order to establish your tradition.” (Mark 7:6-9).  He cites their use of “Corbin.” (Mark 7:11)  If something was “Corbin,” it was dedicated and set apart for God’s use.  Moses had instructed God’s people to “honor their father and mother”, but the Pharisees as much as negated this command by teaching that Jews could give money to the temple in lieu of helping their parents in need.
  3.  Jesus calls such people hypocrites. That’s not even in the Scriptures!  Your laws, your traditions, your loopholes ignore the written Law of God, the will of God, and are sins.  The conflict, and that’s what it had become, was between the laws of Judaism and the example of the love of God as seen in the promise and plan of salvation by grace and faith alone through the Christ.

2.  An example of love and commitment.

A. The example of marriage highlights God’s love.

  1. Truth is, there are too many of God’s people this morning who have difficulty with this Ephesians 5 reference. The use of the word “submit” will offend some women and therefore be unable to hear the rest of the text.  EG: Student and I were discussing their forthcoming marriage.  She asked if these vows were really serious.  Did she really have to “submit” to her husband?
  2. The word “submit” has taken on negative connotations in this era. In an age of the “Me too” movements, we need to be careful how we use the terms “submit” and “love”, for our culture has turned these words to an individualistic meaning, and often in the negative.  Once married, do men or women ignore these vows to love, honor and cherish?  Loopholes: “It wasn’t my fault”, or “he/she made me do it” or “I just fell out of love.  Even our society has encouraged loopholes here, such as “no-fault divorce.”
  3. What is being expressed here is part of the mutual submission of the Christian to one’s spouse. For a husbands’ role, Paul uses the word love.  A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church, and that involved dying for it on a cross, a far more radical form of submission.  Husbands are expected to love their wives to the point where they would die for her, even as the Bridegroom Jesus died for his bride the Church.  That’s heavy.  True, but there are no loopholes here.  It is a message of love and commitment that we have been privileged to know and believe, a message of forgiveness and constant care.

EG: Imagine sitting down on a big couch with God and watching a really detailed movie of your whole life.  The sins are there and at each one God says, “I died for that,” “I forgave that, oh yes, I died for that also.”  But there are a lot of good things too, moments when the life of Christ shone in your life.  When those show up, God says, “I saw that, that was great.”  “Oh, yes, you came through that time.  Well done.” 


We all have traditions.  Think Christmas: when to open gifts, special foods, Christmas Eve worship.  And Easter: coloring Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies and peeps.  Some traditions are good, some are bad.  They are good if they guide and help us in our worship and life together as an expression of our lives lived in God’s grace.  They are bad if they twist God’s Word trying to make them a means of working out our salvation or declaring themselves equal to God’s Word.  Today’s text makes it crystal clear to the scribes and Pharisees, and to us.  Paul is saying God’s Word provides the only thing that is needed, the simple good news of the message, “For by grace you’ve been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God.”


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